Gaza death toll rises as Israel, Palestinian militants trade fire

GAZA CITY, Palestinian Territories: The death toll from violence in Gaza rose to 24 on Sunday, including six children, as Israel continued its assault with shelling Palestinian Militia who retaliated with volleys of rockets.
Updated figures from health authorities in the territory run by the Islamist Hamas group say six children are among those killed since the start of the “Israeli invasion” on Friday. , in addition 204 people were injured.
But Israel says it has “irrefutable” evidence that a missile strayed from the Islamic Jihad Militants were responsible for the deaths of several children in Jabalia, northern Gaza, on Saturday.
It was not immediately clear how many children were killed in the Jabalia incident. An AFP photographer saw six dead bodies at an area hospital, including three minors.
The violence is the worst in Gaza since a war last year devastated the impoverished territory – home to some 2.3 million Palestinians – and forced countless Israelis to seek refuge from rockets.
The Israeli military has warned its latest air and artillery campaign against jihad could last a week, but Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said Cairo was talking “round the clock.” ” with both sides to defuse the violence.
Israel has said a “pre-emptive” campaign against jihad is needed, as the group is planning an imminent attack after days of tension along the border with Gaza.
The head of the army’s operations command, Oded Basiok, said the entire “high-level leadership of the Islamic Jihad in Gaza has been neutralized” by the Israeli operation.
That includes Taysir al-Jabari, a top militia commander killed in Gaza City on Friday, and Khaled Mansourwho was confirmed as a jihadist died in an attack in Rafah, southern Gaza on Saturday.
According to the Gaza Interior Ministry, a total of eight people were killed in the attack in Rafah, including a 14-year-old child.
Daily life in the strip has come to a standstill, while the electricity distributor said the sole power station was closed due to a lack of fuel after Israel closed its border crossings.
The Gaza Health Ministry said the next few hours would be “very important and difficult”, and warned of the risk of suspending vital services for 72 hours due to power shortages.
In Gaza City, resident Dounia Ismail said Palestinians are used to preparing “survival gear” including money and medicine.
“This latest escalation evokes images of fear, anxiety and the feeling that we are all alone,” she told AFP.
Meanwhile, civilians in southern and central Israel have been forced into air raid shelters since Friday.
Magen David Adom Emergency Service said two people were hospitalized with shrapnel wounds and 13 others suffered minor injuries while running for safety.
In Kibbutz Nahal OzAn Israeli community next to the Gaza border, resident Nadav Peretz said he has been “in a bomb shelter or around it” since Friday.
“We recognize that on the other side there are also unaccompanied civilians, and on both sides, children deserve to enjoy their summer vacation,” said the 40-year-old.
Islamic Jihad is affiliated with Hamas, but often operates independently. Both are blacklisted by the West as terrorist organizations.
Hamas has fought four wars with Israel since taking control of Gaza in 2007, including the conflict last May.
An outbreak of jihad took place in 2019, after Israel killed Baha Abu al-Ata, Jabari’s predecessor. Hamas was not involved in that conflict.
Hamas’ moves could prove crucial now, as the group is facing pressure from some to restore calm in order to improve economic conditions in Gaza.
A partial focus will be on Jerusalem on Sunday, where some Jews will mark Tisha Be’av’s day of remembrance by visiting the holy city’s most sensitive religious site, the mosque compound. Al Aqsa, known as the Temple Mount in Judaism.
Tensions in the former Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem compound have sparked wider violence, and Ismail Haniyeh, the head of Hamas, which is based in Doha, has warned against allowing Jews to “aggress”. into” the compound on Sunday, saying it could lead to an “uncontrollable” security crisis. events in Gaza.
Israeli far-right politician Itamar Ben Gvir is expected to visit the complex on Sunday morning.

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